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Authors: Joanne Chang

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BOOK: Baking with Less Sugar
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CHAPTER ONE
REDUCING WHITE SUGAR

Cutting out white sugar from your diet cold turkey might be a little too jarring to your system at first. I know it was for me when I first embarked on this exciting journey to learn to bake with less sugar. We ease into it here. These are my favorite desserts and baked goods made with at most half or even one-third the typical amount of sugar. You'll find that your taste buds will gradually adjust, and your palate will learn to prefer pastries that are less sweet—especially if they are made with superb ingredients and showcase the delightful flavors of fruits, spices, nuts, and chocolate.

PEAR-CARDAMOM-WALNUT SCONES

One whiff of these scones baking and I am transported to the Swedish bakery I frequented one summer when I was an exchange student in Stockholm during high school. The intoxicating scent of cardamom filled the air, and my favorite indulgence was a sugar-dusted cardamom brioche roll filled with raisins and walnuts. Cardamom is pretty potent, so you don't need a lot to make an impact. Here, its warm, aromatic, floral flavors are the perfect foil to juicy sweet pears and toasted walnuts.

MAKES
12
SCONES

  • 75 g/
    3
    /
    4
    cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 385 g/2
    3
    /
    4
    cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1
    /
    2
    tsp baking soda
  • 1
    /
    2
    tsp kosher salt
  • 3
    /
    4
    tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 115 g/
    1
    /
    2
    cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
  • 3 ripe medium Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and chopped into small dice
  • 180 g/
    3
    /
    4
    cup crème fraîche
    (see page 24)
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

1.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F [175°C]. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.
Put the walnuts on the prepared baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from the baking sheet and set aside to cool.

3.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), briefly mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and 2 Tbsp of the sugar on low speed until combined. Add the butter and beat on low speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the butter is somewhat broken down but there are still pieces about the size of a grape. (Alternatively, use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients; proceed as directed.) Add the pears and walnuts and beat on low speed for just a few seconds until the pears and walnuts are mixed into the dry ingredients. (If mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon to mix the pears and walnuts into the dough.)

4.
In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, vanilla, egg, and one of the egg yolks until thoroughly mixed. With the mixer running on low speed, pour the crème fraîche mixture into the flour-butter mixture and beat for 20 to 30 seconds, or until the dough just comes together. There will probably still be a little loose flour mixture at the bottom of the bowl. (If mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon to mix the wet ingredients into the dry.)

5.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Gather and lift the dough with your hands and turn it over in the bowl so that it starts to pick up the loose flour at the bottom. Turn the dough over several times until all the loose flour is mixed in. The dough will be soft and somewhat sticky.

6.
Using a
1
/
2
-cup [125-ml] measuring cup, scoop out rounds of dough and place them on the cooled, prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg yolk with a fork and, using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the scones with the yolk. Sprinkle the scones evenly with the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar. (At this point the unbaked scones can be stored in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week. If baking directly from the freezer, add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time and proceed as directed.)

7.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown on the edges and pale golden brown in the centers. Let the scones cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then serve.

8.
The scones are best enjoyed the same day you bake them, but they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300°F [150°C] oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or store in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat from frozen in a 300°F [150°C] oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

BLUEBERRY BRAN MUFFINS

We have a “snack tray” at each bakery filled with various pastries that collect throughout the day that are deemed not quite up to snuff to sell. Misshapen cookies, sticky buns that aren't gooey enough, a broken slice of coffee cake, make up the bulk of the tray. I love each and every misfit pastry, but my eyes especially light up when I see a decapitated blueberry muffin. Most people go for the muffin top. Not me! I go for the fruity insides packed with gobs of blueberries. The natural sweetness of the berries together with the buttery batter make for great snacking indeed. I knew that when making a blueberry muffin with less sugar, I could use this “inside” info to my advantage: truly the most scrumptious part of an excellent blueberry muffin is the part full of juicy fruit. What these muffins lack in sugar sweetness they more than make up for in bountiful berry goodness. Bran makes them even more tempting and good for you, so you can feel even better about enjoying these hearty breakfast treats.

MAKES
12
MUFFINS

  • 245 g/1
    3
    /
    4
    cups all-purpose flour
  • 60 g/1 cup wheat bran (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1
    /
    2
    tsp baking soda
  • 1
    /
    2
    tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 70 g/
    1
    /
    3
    cup sugar
  • 115 g/
    1
    /
    2
    cup unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature
  • 120 g/
    1
    /
    2
    cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 180 g/
    3
    /
    4
    cup crème fraîche
    (see page 24)
    , at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 375 g/2
    1
    /
    2
    cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

1.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F [175°C]. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup muffin tin, coat with nonstick cooking spray, or line with paper liners.

2.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, wheat bran, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, butter, milk, crème fraîche, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and fold gently, using a rubber spatula, just until the ingredients are combined. Gently fold in the blueberries until the fruit is distributed well. The batter may seem lumpy, but don't try to smooth it out.

3.
Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop a heaping
2
/
3
cup [150 ml] batter into each prepared cup of the muffin tin, filling the cups to the brim (almost overflowing) and making sure the cups are evenly filled. You might think you have too much batter, but you can fill these to overflowing and then you will get nice tops on your muffins. If you prefer smaller muffins, spoon about
1
/
2
cup [125 ml] batter into each cup and decrease the baking time to 25 to 35 minutes; you will get up to 18 smaller muffins.

4.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the muffins are entirely golden brown on top and they spring back lightly when you press them in the center. There's a lot of fruit in these muffins, so make sure you bake them enough so the insides of the muffins don't get soggy. Let the muffins cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, and then remove them from the pan.

5.
The muffins are best enjoyed the same day you bake them, but they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300°F [150°C] oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or store in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat from frozen in a 300°F [150°C] oven for 8 to 10 minutes. The unbaked muffin batter can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

CINNAMON SUGAR MONKEY BREAD

Certain desserts just don't seem destined for a low-sugar makeover. I didn't even attempt to make angel food cake—which relies on sugar to stabilize the egg whites in the batter—or caramels—where sugar is the main ingredient. One of my pastry chefs Jon and I were tossing around other desserts that would be difficult to make with little sugar when he piped up, “MONKEY BREAD!” We both stopped for a second and looked at each other—and the challenge was on! Monkey bread, according to most theories, gets its name from the little balls of dough that bake all together and then you pluck them one by one to eat them, similar to a monkey who likes to pluck at, well, everything. The bread dough is a simple, rich dough that gets dipped piece by piece into butter and cinnamon sugar. Before baking, you pour a cream-butter-sugar mixture over the whole thing and it bakes into the dough, leaving a light caramel topping on the little breads. It's definitely not as gooey and tooth-achingly sweet as a traditional monkey bread recipe, but it is crazy delicious. After a while Jon and I kept making this under the guise of “more testing,” but in reality it was just because we loved eating it so much.

MAKES
ONE
8-IN [20-CM] CAKE

BREAD DOUGH

  • 180 g/
    3
    /
    4
    cup whole milk, at body temperature (when you put your finger in it, it should feel neither cold nor hot)
  • 1
    /
    2
    tsp active dry yeast or 3 g/0.1 oz fresh cake yeast
  • 280 g/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus up to about 35 g/
    1
    /
    4
    cup more, if needed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 115 g/
    1
    /
    2
    cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 100 g/
    1
    /
    2
    cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 160 g/
    2
    /
    3
    cup heavy cream

1. To make the dough:
Lightly oil a large bowl.

2.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or in a medium bowl, combine the milk and yeast and let sit for 20 to 30 seconds to allow the yeast to dissolve and activate. Dump the flour and salt onto the milk, and carefully turn the mixer on medium-low speed. (Or use a wooden spoon to mix the flour into the milk, and switch to using your hands to mix the dough when it gets too stiff.) Let the dough mix for about 10 seconds. (To prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl, turn the mixer on and off several times until the flour is mixed into the liquid, and then keep it on low speed.) When the dough is still shaggy looking, add the butter and egg yolk.

3.
With the mixer still on medium-low speed, knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it starts to come together into a sticky dough. (If making by hand, continue to knead the dough by hand; it will be very sticky and soft, but keep turning it over onto itself and folding it in half and punching it in the middle to encourage the dough to develop more stretchiness.) The dough will be somewhat soft and tacky and have a bit of a stretchy consistency. If it is much stiffer than this, mix in 2 to 3 Tbsp water; if it is much looser than this, mix in 2 to 3 Tbsp flour.

BOOK: Baking with Less Sugar
4.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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